SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Awakening young people to the power of worship and engaging their zeal and passion to fuel an active and exciting church are the goals of the Awakening Conference, a three-day event held on two successive weekends at the New Life Worship Center. Indeed, everything about this New England conference proclaims “Youth!”– from the tender age of its founder Jordan Boyce (who was 16 when he started Awakening in 2007), to appearances by nationally-known celebrity pastors such as Rich Wilkerson Jr. (who served as clergy at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s wedding), to the event’s free-spirited, electrifying rock festival-like energy.
In fact, it is the Awakening Conference’s resemblance to a major rock tour, complete with super-charged lighting and visual effects, that has made it so successful in getting its message out to young people, says Robert Santilli, Technical Director of New Life Worship Center and the Awakening Conference. At this year’s event, Santilli relied heavily on CHAUVET Professional’s Next NXT-1 moving head LED panel to transform the New Life stage and auditorium into a full-scale concert production with brilliant colorful lighting, high-energy video and eye-popping special effects.
Discussing why he believes lighting is so important to the Awakening Conference, Santilli explains, “We want the youth who attend to be in a fun, exciting, free atmosphere where they can jump and dance. One of the tools we use to accomplish this is lighting. With lighting we create a high-energy, exciting experience for the young people to open up and be free in their worship.”
Events United from Manchester, NH was contracted to provide all the supplemental audio, lighting, video, and staging equipment. Santilli wanted to use a pixel mappable moving head fixture and Tim Messina from Events United recommended the NXT-1 fixtures because of their ability to function as both a special effects light and video display panel that would be ideal for the Awakening Conference. A moving head panel equipped with 25 pixel-mappable RGBW LEDs, the Next NXT-1 features a brilliant output and tight 6° beam angle, which combined with its fast movement and rapid response, allows designers to create stunning eye candy with maximum punch at long throws. It includes exciting built-in patterns and alpha-numeric characters for easy programming, and it also offers the ability to display pixel mapped video images, being controllable by both lighting consoles and media servers.
“We used the NXT-1s in a variety of ways; we created custom videos that were pixel mapped on them, and we also used the features of the fixture to add to the high-energy feel of our worship,” said Santilli. “We originally were planning on taking a standard LED panel and trying to use it as a ‘light’ instead of a video panel by creating content to put on it. But once we saw (the NXT-1) and Tim said it was possible to get these lights, we jumped on it. We liked that we could use video content and control the graphical elements that get sent to the panel, but at the same time it was actually a light. It looked great and worked well for what we were trying to do.”
With an extremely diverse array of performers, speakers and activities on stage during the three-day event, the Awakening Conference’s organizers also liked the fact that they could easily create varied visual looks with the NXT-1. “We changed the mood of the room by changing the color and positioning of the lights,” said Santilli, who used different effects and video content to highlight different bands and performers. “For the group Social Club we did more strobing and used video that had more shapes, but for Awakening Worship (the conference’s own band, which recorded live songs for its new album Adonal at the event) we used more solid colors and high-energy video.” The videos displayed on the panels ranged from “stock footage to custom videos created specifically for the screens. Some were just standard color changes and gradient wipes, but we also used some abstract videos that had a lot of contrast and use of shapes and lines.”
Another feature of the NXT-1 that proved valuable was its 540°pan /270°tilt ability, which allowed for angular installation. The panels were configured 5’ apart in a wall slanted back at a 45° angle — a visual “trick” that made the stage appear deeper. “When our stage is set up with all our design elements, it ends up being not very deep,” explained Santilli. “So we arranged the panels the way we did to give the appearance of a large, deep stage. It looked the (the LED wall) was encompassing the entire stage so that in every video shot and photo you saw part of the rig.”
Since footage and photos from the event are used to promote the Awakening Conference throughout the year, it was important that both the lighting design and fixtures be camera-friendly in addition to enhancing live performances, the technical director noted. “The NXT-1 panels were extremely bright and produced vivid colors,” he reported. ”They worked well on video as well as live. They met all of our needs.”